A splash of Sri Lankan magic

I’ve been exploring different recipe books recently, both here on my blog and at home. I think after years of Jamie and Nigella I’m craving something a bit more exotic, and a little more challenging to prepare, than the “bish bosh bash whack it in the oven” approach. Last night we had friends round for a casual supper and in between downpours we managed to do a bit of a bbq with a few salads and a cake from Ottolenghi. Of course these involved his usual list of 400 ingredients and a trip to a specialist shop to find Orange Blossom Water, but it was devoured so I’m taking that as a good sign. Anyway, today we’re off to Sri Lanka, a country which is right at the top of my bucket list to visit despite the recent terrible bombings.

So I greedily grabbed an advance copy of A Feast of Serendib when I spotted it. And I love it. Most of the ingredients are easy to find (unlike Orange Blossom Water, thanks Ottolenghi), and it’s straightforward home cooking. This has definitely earned a place on my cookbook shelf.

A Feast of Serendib Cover

My only slight gripe is that it’s aimed at the American market so you’re converting measures  again – can someone tell me how many grams are in a stick of butter please?! I confess I have finally relented and bought a set of measuring cups but I do wish recipe books gave alternatives for international readers.

It’s not the book (or cuisine) for you if you don’t like onions though. Apart from the puddings, virtually every recipe has a big pile of onion in it, and I’m sure given a chance they’d sneak onions into the Mango Fluff too. Personally, I’m toning down the onion a bit, but I hope the author forgives me!

In case you’re exploring veganism, like so many of my friends are currently, I noticed on her website that she has also published a small vegan cookbook.

The blurb

Dark roasted curry powder, a fine attention to the balance of salty-sour-sweet, wholesome red rice and toasted curry leaves, plenty of coconut milk and chili heat. These are the flavors of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was a cross roads in the sea routes of the East. Three waves of colonization—Portuguese, Dutch and British—and the Chinese laborers who came with them, left their culinary imprint on Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cooking with its many vegetarian dishes gives testimony to the presence of a multi-ethnic and multi -religious population.

Everyday classics like beef smoore and Jaffna crab curry are joined by luxurious feast dishes, such as nargisi kofta and green mango curry, once served to King Kasyapa in his 5th century sky palace of Sigiriya.

Vegetable dishes include cashew curry, jackfruit curry, asparagus poriyal, tempered lentils, broccoli varai and lime-masala mushrooms. There are appetizers of chili-mango cashews, prawn lentil patties, fried mutton rolls, and ribbon tea sandwiches. Deviled chili eggs bring the heat, yet ginger-garlic chicken is mild enough for a small child. Desserts include Sir Lankan favorites:  love cake, mango fluff, milk toffee and vattalappam, a richly-spiced coconut custard.

In A Feast of Serendib, Mary Anne Mohanraj introduces her mother’s cooking and her own Americanizations, providing a wonderful introduction to Sri Lankan American cooking, straightforward enough for a beginner, and nuanced enough to capture the flavor of Sri Lankan cooking.

About the Author

A Feast of Serendib - Author Photo

Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion(HarperCollins), The Stars Change(Circlet Press) and thirteen other titles. Bodies in Motionwas a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages.  The Stars Changewas a finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards.

Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated and World Fantasy Award-winning speculative literature magazine, Strange Horizons, and alsofounded Jaggery, a S. Asian & S. Asian diaspora literary journal (jaggerylit.com). She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon. She serves as Director of two literary organizations, DesiLit (www.desilit.org) and The Speculative Literature Foundation (www.speclit.org).  She serves on the futurist boards of the XPrize and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Mohanraj is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, withher husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog. Recent publications include stories for George R.R. Martin’s WildCardsseries, stories at Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Lightspeed, and an essay in Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies. 2017-2018 titles include Survivor(a SF/F anthology), Perennial, Invisible 3(co-edited with Jim C. Hines), and Vegan Serendib. http://www.maryannemohanraj.com

Social Media Links –

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/mary.a.mohanraj
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mamohanraj
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/maryannemohanraj/
Website:  http://www.maryannemohanraj.com

Serendib Kitchen website: http://serendibkitchen.com

Purchase Links:

http://serendibkitchen.com/shop/

https://a-feast-of-serendib.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders

Astronaut alert and a book giveaway

What is it about characters called Stan that they must boldly go where no man has been before, tailed by an annoying younger sibling?

In case you hadn’t worked it out, I’m looking at Planet Stan by Elaine Wickson and Space Dragons by Robin Bennett. Nothing to do with a TV series that may have possibly trademarked that phrase. Out of curiosity, I googled “Astronaut Stan” and he’s real … Stan Love

 

If you follow my blog regularly, you’ll know I absolutely loved Robin Bennett’s last book, The Hairy Hand – you can check out my review here but in a nutshell it was Rincewind (Terry Pratchett) meets The Twits (Roald Dahl) and had me laughing out loud.

Space Dragons is very different. To start with, it’s pitched at the younger end of middle grade, so it’s not a follow on read for fans of The Hairy Hand which I’d say was slightly older. It is, however, ideal for fans of Planet Stan. The writing style is easy, the characters (human) are relatable, and the dragons definitely have touches of Hitchikers Guide to The Galaxy dripping with sarcasm and dry humour.

Anyway, Robin has very kindly popped over to have a bit of a chat about books and kids (his own!) …

I wrote Space Dragons to have two protagonists: a boy and a girl. This was partly just for the helluvit and partly a personal bid to try and get our boys to be nicer to their little sister. And it almost worked.

However they are not completely reformed – I found one of her dolls lashed half way up our conker tree in the garden the other day (quite impressed they managed to get it that high) and, to be fair – aged 10 – she gives as good as she gets these days.

My secondary goal was to have a central character who wasn’t wise cracking or terribly damaged or so mundane as to go out the other side and be perversely interesting. I wanted normal because most of the time most kids like normal –  it is their comfort zone. Aside from winding up spending their summer in the outer reaches of our Solar System, Stan and Poppy are pretty typical: Stan is a bit quiet and will get picked on because of it; and Poppy is talkative, but that’s about it, really. However, no-one ever fits the mould completely and growing up is partly a) coming to terms with whatever it is that makes you (usually) just a bit different (tall, short, clever, not-so-clever, weird hair etc) and b) how you turn that into an advantage.

Oh, and I wanted dragons … in Space!

Note

For the record, my primary goal was the same as usual: to write a book that children will read and enjoy … and moral tone, which is frequently just adult posturing and of no interest to children, points vague and points pertinent can go whistle.

Giveaway to Win 10 x Hardcover Copies of Space Dragons – UK Only

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494237/?

The blurb

If Stan Pollux had known he would be spending his summer holidays in the outer reaches of our solar system, he would have put on different underpants.

But when he gets kidnapped by the Planet Dragon Mercury, most things suddenly seem small and insignificant. Stan finds himself in a universe of dragons who had once ruled the skies as gods: Mars, Venus, Saturn and even Uranus way out back. This is shaping up to be the best summer holiday in the history of the cosmos until Stan discovers his stupid sister is missing and that Pluto (AKA Hades) is trying to use her to destroy the Solar System. And it will be all Stan’s fault if he doesn’t get Poppy back.

So, all Stan has to do is learn how to fight like a hero in space armour, defeat the dragon god of the Underworld, Hades, rescue his sister and save the world. All before his parents realise she is missing.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Space-Dragons-Robin-Bennett-ebook/dp/B07NDY2394

US – https://www.amazon.com/Space-Dragons-Robin-Bennett-ebook/dp/B07NDY2394

About Robin Bennett

robin_bennett_author_entrepreneur

Robin Bennett is an author and entrepreneur who has written several books for children, adults, and everything in between. Listed in the Who’s Who of British Business Excellence at 29, his 2016 documentary “Fantastic Britain”, about the British obsession with fantasy and folklore, won best foreign feature at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards, and his first book for young adults, Picus the Thief, won the Writer’s News Indie Published Book of the Year Award in 2012. Robin is also a director at Firefly Press

Twitter – https://twitter.com/MonsterBooksRaw

 

 

Another bus journey and a creative writing workshop

A few weeks ago, I spotlighted the first Jay-Jay bus adventure. Well there are five more in the series and, since I’m Scottish, the story behind his Island Adventure caught my attention …

Over to Sue …

‘Jay-Jay and his Island Adventure’, was originally written for a Scottish book bus.

‘Play,Talk, Read’ was the project which visited remote areas if Scotland to encourage reading in the very young. It was a great success and the bus even visited the Shetland Islands travelling on a very small ferry.

The children had never seen a double-decker on their island before and certainly not one to play on.

However, the Scottish project was too busy with referendums and with the book ready and edited, I changed the name of the bus from Benji, sending Jay-Jay instead, and relocating to Spain.

The island on the cover of the book was based on a piece of mainland Spain which I have visited many times. Cap D’Or is the promentory near to a little village of Moraira.

The villagers in Moraira invited me to read this book in their library and local schools. The people in this little village were surprised to find that Jay-Jay was a real bus. Now all of the books are in the local library in both Teulada and Moraira.

JayJay2_Cover_AW-1 (3)

 

Review

I haven’t got much more to say than for the first Jay-Jay book: this is a super positive story for readers ready to start tackling longer books, but reluctant to let go of the pictures. The illustrations are gorgeous in a lovely traditional style (think Famous Five rather than Charlie & Lola or Neon Leon). For parents and teachers, if you’re bored to tears with Biff and Chip, please add this to your reading pile! 

Of course, as a Scot, I wish it had stayed in a Scottish island, but Jay-Jay relocated well (which fits neatly with my recent blogs on expat life!)

Creative Writing Workshop

Sue and I are doing a creative writing workshop at the Festival of Chichester on Saturday 29th June where we’ll plan a journey, and make some badges to go with it. Do come and join us!

A7B99F1A-E8DE-4B5C-879A-301A39499276

 

Giveaway to Win Jay Jay and the Carnival (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494228/

 

 

 

Does your family like spicy food?

It’s been a while since I showcased a cookbook, but this one is packed with recipes I want to eat NOW (and it’s only 8 a.m.). I’m lucky that my kids are happy to eat a bit of spice, in fact the chicken wing roulette at Nando’s is their favourite “treat” … honestly – they were having fun!

 

Spices and Seasons Indian cookbook

Spicesandseasonsmed

I eagerly grabbed a review copy of this cookbook and I absolutely love the recipes, but there are a caveats for UK readers though

  • it’s all in American measures – cups and pounds. I can estimate a cup, but it would be so much easier if there were UK measures added to help international cooks.
  • on a similar theme, it uses American terminology so all the recipes I looked at required a bit of interpretation, e.g. cilantro (coriander), all-purpose flour (plain flour) and heavy cream (I actually don’t know if this is double cream or whipping cream?)
  • some tricky ingredients – I’d struggle to find mace blades where I live, so would have to swap for nutmeg.

That means I’d need to buy a paperback not ebook so I could annotate the recipes or it would drive me nuts, but it’s definitely worth a space on my shelf.

Here’s an example for you …

Saffron and Almond Salmon Kebabs

Our friend Vivek Kumar, who makes a tandoori version of fish kebabs, inspired these salmon kebabs. I love delicately grilled or baked fish morsels and decided to see if I could do more with the spicing. This recipe emerged. The spices in this recipe are designed to highlight and accentuate the saffron which leaves a delicate orange color against the natural pink of the rich-tasting salmon. Since I do not use additional cream, it is important to use whole milk Greek yogurt in this recipe.

Content For Mum’s Book Blast -Saffron and Almond Salmon Kebabs

Prep Time: 10 minutes plus 2 hours for marinating | Cook Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

½ cup whole milk Greek yogurt

½ cup blanched almonds or cashew nuts

1-inch piece fresh peeled ginger

2 green chilies

1 teaspoon saffron strands

¾ teaspoon salt or to taste

2 or 3 mace blades

⅛ teaspoon nutmeg

1½ pounds salmon fillets, cut into 1½-inch pieces

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill to garnish (optional)

Preparation

  1. Place the yogurt, almonds or cashews, ginger, green chilies, saffron, salt, mace blades, and nutmeg in a blender and grind until smooth. You will get a pretty saffron-colored thick sauce.
  2. Place the salmon in a mixing bowl and gently toss with the yogurt mixture. Marinate for about 2 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Grease a baking dish with 1 tablespoon of oil.
  4. Place the salmon pieces with the marinade on the baking dish about 1 inch apart to allow room to pick the cooked pieces up neatly (skewers are optional). Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil.
  5. Bake the salmon for about 10 minutes, then broil for 2 to 3 minutes to gently brown the top (the salmon should have a few golden brown specs, but it is important not to dry it out).
  6. Serve immediately garnished with dill.

 

Blurb

Rinku Bhattacharya combines her two great loves―Indian cooking and sustainable living―to give readers a simple, accessible way to cook seasonally, locally, and flavorfully. Inspired by the bounty of local produce, mostly from her own backyard, Rinku set out to create recipes for busy, time-strapped home cooks who want to blend Indian flavors into nutritious family meals. Arranged in chapters from appetizers through desserts, the cookbook includes everything from small bites, soups, seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetables, to condiments, breads, and sweets. You’ll find recipes for tempting fare like “Mango and Goat Cheese Mini Crisps,” “Roasted Red Pepper Chutney,” “Crisped Okra with Dry Spice Rub,” “Smoky Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Puree,” and “Red Harvest Masala Cornish Hens,” to name a few. As exotic and enticing as these recipes sound, the ingredients are easily found and the instructions are simple. Rinku encourages readers to explore the bounty of their local farms and markets, and embrace the rich flavors of India to cook food that is nutritious, healthy, seasonal and most importantly, delicious.

 

About Rinku Bhattacharya

Rinku Bhattacharya (spicechronicles.com) was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column “Spices and Seasons.”

Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years, and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.

https://twitter.com/Wchestermasala

https://www.instagram.com/spice_chronicles/

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/rinkub/?autologin=true

https://www.facebook.com/spicechronicles

 

Purchase Links

US – https://www.amazon.com/Spices-Seasons-Simple-Sustainable-Flavors/dp/078181331X

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spices-Seasons-Simple-Sustainable-Flavors/dp/078181331X

 

A practical handbook for expat families

This caught my eye as I’ve been an expat, admittedly a long time ago. I know it sounds exciting and glamorous, and of course it is, but there are challenges. This book focuses on these aspects.

The book is written by Las, who is a “trailing spouse”, the non-working half of the family. It was actually my job that took us to Sydney, but my husband quickly found a job in his sector, so we avoided many of the isolation issues that she encounters and, other than distance from home, Sydney has to be one of the easiest places to settle as an expat, however much of the rest of the book resonated. I’ve also done a short stint as a trailing spouse in South Africa, where I got an insight into many of the struggles Las addresses.

The chapters cover a wide variety of topics. The chapter on packing was pretty basic, but the one on Expat Drop was extremely insightful – in fact any expat should read the book for this chapter alone.

Overall, I’d recommend this to anyone considering the expat life. I also think it would be useful for the working half of the team to read it to get a better understanding of some of the issues that their trailing spouse faces. My only gripe would be, it felt like it should be humorous, but it was neither totally funny, nor totally serious. The home help chapter for example nearly had me laughing out loud, but not quite.

One thing I would add from my personal experiences, is that it took us about 18 months to break out of the expat community and make local friends. That group are still some of my closest buddies even now, 20 years later, and some of them are settled in the UK!

Blurb

BloomWhereYourePlanted Cover

Are you contemplating a move abroad?

Don’t panic!

From culture shock to capable, from language barriers to lifelong friends, and from foreign land to the familiar. Being hurled into life in a strange new place can be daunting and overwhelming, but it can also be exciting and enjoyable.

Rich with tips on how to expat like a boss, Lasairiona McMaster’s “Bloom where you are planted”,takes you on a journey from packing up her life in Northern Ireland to jumping in at the deep-end as an expat in two countries.

An experienced expat from a decade of living abroad, her honest and uncensored tales of what to expect when you’re expatriating, are as funny as they are poignant, and as practical as they are heartfelt. If you’ve lived abroad, or you’re considering the move from local to expat. If you’re looking to rediscover yourself, or simply wondering how on earth to help your children develop into adaptable, resilient, and well-rounded people, this book has something for you.

About the author

AA6352F4-30A0-4D9F-9F1E-59B14C3BA2FB

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/QueenofFireLas

Twitter –  https://twitter.com/QueenofFireLas

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/queenoffirelas/?hl=en

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07RQ9BL6D/

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RQ9BL6D/

Eternal Seas Audio book launch!

You may have spotted that Eternal Seas has been made into an audiobook narrated by the very talented Chris Dickins. If you haven’t seen it already, here is a taster for you …

It’s just been on tour and got so many amazing reviews that Chris and I have both been overwhelmed! A huge thanks to all the bloggers who participated 🙂

Here are just a few snippets, but if you’d like to read the full reviews, the links are below.

“Five stars from me – a thoroughly enjoyable story and a well written fantasy novel that suits an audio book perfectly – very highly recommended!!” Donna’s Book Blog

“I had thoroughly enjoyed reading the e-book version of this story and was intrigued to discover if I’d enjoy the audiobook version as much – and I did! … he is very talented at bringing the story to life in the imagination of his listeners. He uses his voice to make it clear just which character is talking and his use of expression, intonation and volume is exemplary. I can easily imagine children being as enthralled as I was by how he relates the story and events, capturing you and taking you into the heart of the action packed adventure.” Splashes Into Books

“I absolutely adored this audiobook for children aged 7-12 (ish).  I think it’s a brilliant introduction to fantasy writing for young children …. The audio itself was extremely well narrated, by Christopher Dickins, who did a brilliant job of using a range of voices so the characters can be distinguished between easily – I feel this is important for young children who find it more difficult to focus on audio. ” Like Herding Cats

“There is a an ease and sense of geniality to his voice that is extremely pleasant. His voice work is great, providing a nice cast of characters. His work is extremely similar to that of David Tennant. Tennant, often recognized for his work on Broadchurch or Doctor Who, is a truly wonderful narrator and voice actor. Dickens, at times, sounds eerily similar and with equal skill.” World Geekly News

“when the sleep timer kicked in, I was still wide awake and ended up just setting another timer so I could keep listening. The audiobook was as hard to turn off as the book was to put down when I read it. Chris Dickins was the perfect choice – he is certainly talented when it comes to different voices. He really injected the full sense of adventure into the story, and I just felt swept along with it.” Mai’s Musings

“The narrator was really great! He gave each character a really distinctive voice, which is an element of audiobook narrating that can be done really well or really… not. But this narrator got nicely into the heads of the characters, and portrayed their attitudes through their words. It builds up a lovely picture of the characters and scene when the narrator does their job well, and I’ll always be appreciative of a good narrator!” The Treasure Within

“a nice easy listen to fill a couple of hours. Something you can so easily lose yourself in, it brings a smile to your face as you are swept up along the way.” Zooloo’s Book Diary

“Christopher Dickens has a pleasant, easy to follow voice, perfect for this genre and age range. He conveys the change in characters and atmosphere well and does so in a way where you know which character is speaking before the speech tag comes – a fantastic quality in a narrator. I don’t have kids, but I found Mr Dickens relaxing, and a great storyteller.” Radzy Writes & Reviews

“the narrator is easy to listen to and his voice doesn’t sound too mature to be narrating from the point of view of a 12 year old boy.” Birdies Bibliotecha

“a brilliant book which is very well narrated” Black Books

“This is one of the best audiobook narraters I’ve come across. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more audiobooks from him, and of course for more books in this series.” This is my bookshelf

Here are the links to all the reviews.

Radzy Writes http://www.vainradical.co.uk/blogs/eternal-seas-blog-blitz/
Zooloo’s Book Diary http://zooloosbookdiary.co.uk/audiobookreview-of-eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees-rararesources
Herding Cats https://likeherdingcatsblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees-audiobook-tour/
World Geekly News http://worldgeeklynews.com/books/eternal-seas-book-review
The Treasure Within https://thetreasurewithinblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/eternal-seas-a-sea-faring-adventure-story-blog-blitz/
donnasbookblog https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/blogtour-bookreview-for-eternal-seas-by-lexi-rees/
Birdie’s Bibliotheca https://birdiesbibliotheca.com/2019/04/23/eternal-seas-a-review/
Splashes Into Books https://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/eternal-seas/
Mai’s Musings https://maitaylor567291325.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/eternal-seas-lexi-rees-audiobook/
This Is My Bookshelf https://thisismybookshelfblog.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/blog-tour-eternal-seas/

 

Huge thanks again to everyone, and to Rachel’s Random Resources for hosting the tour!

Spotlight on local author Carol Thomas

I often spotlight books and authors, but they’re aways either children or adults, but Carol Thomas, from my local writing network Chindi, has published in both. So I thought we’d chat a bit about how she flips between genres.

Which came first, writing romance or writing for children?

Writing romance, and since gaining my publishing contract with Ruby fiction for my novel, The Purrfect Pet Sitter, it has been my main focus. However, I am a mum of four, I have two grandchildren, and I worked as a playgroup leader and primary school teacher for over fifteen years. Children are a very big part of my life and have a way of sneaking into my novels.

I often record the fabulous comments made by my own children. I love their inquisitive minds and how they look at the world. When the opportunity arises, I thread their words into my books. For me, this adds authenticity to the voices of the children I am portraying. In The Purrfect Pet Sitter, and its sequel Maybe Baby, the supporting cast of children (and pets) inspire some of my favourite comedic moments.

Regarding Finding a Friend, my first children’s book, the idea came to me in such a way that I couldn’t resist writing it. After reading a bedtime story to my then five-year-old son, I was looking at a photograph of him with our much-loved chocolate Labrador who had passed away at the grand old age of sixteen. The two of them shared a close bond, and I thought how lovely it would have been if they had grown up together. The first verse sprung to mind, and I said it aloud to my son. I kept going, hurriedly noting it down soon after.

thumbnail_edward imagine a puppy with him

Once I had the verses written, I worked on it, deploying my knowledge of developing early literacy skills to ensure the language was rhythmic, rhyming and repetitive. I wanted the text to inspire children to join in, anticipate and repeat words and phrases. It was a joy to write.

I have subsequently written two other children’s books that are awaiting illustrations. It is hard to balance the time, with the demands of writing and promoting my romance novels too, but I hope to get them out later this year.

What advice would you give to writers who are planning to write across genres?

If I could go back, I would put my children’s book out under a pen name and have separate social media pages in readiness for it. I didn’t, under the advice of my then publisher who quite rightly stated that as it is the adults who purchase children’s books, it would be them (the followers I had already gained from romance writing) who would be my target audience. However, in reality, this means that my children’s book doesn’t often get the attention it deserves.

I write romance, it is in no way explicit, but still, it is hard to balance posting about Chris Hemsworth inspiring my male lead in Maybe Baby, with posting about my cute picture book about a puppy! So watch this space, when my other books come out, I will endeavour to rectify this.

 

So since I’m getting into holiday mode, tell us about your latest romantic comedy novel:

thumbnail_Maybe Baby_High Res

Maybe Baby is the sequel to The Purrfect Pet Sitter (Lisa Blake book #1). While each book can be read as a standalone story, Maybe Baby revisits the characters from The Purrfect Pet Sitter as they move into the next phase of their lives. It is the book of what happens after the happy ever after.

And here’s the blurb:

Just when you thought you had it all worked out …

Best friends Lisa and Felicity think – maybe, just maybe – they finally have everything sorted out in their lives.

Lisa is in a happy relationship with her old flame, and busy mum Felicity has managed to reignite the passion with her husband, Pete, after a romantic getaway.

But when Lisa walks in on a half-naked woman in her boyfriend’s flat and Felicity is left reeling from a shocking discovery, it becomes clear that life is nothing but full of surprises!

Amazon Links:

Romance: Maybe Baby

Kids: Finding a Friend

About the author:

thumbnail_Carol Thomas headshot2

An active member of the Chindi Authors, Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and lively Labrador. She has a passion for reading, writing and people watching and can often be found loitering in local cafes working on her next book.

Website and Social Media Links:

Home

http://facebook.com/carolthomasauthor

https://www.instagram.com/carol_thomas2/

 

Blog:

http://carol-thomas.co.uk/blog